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Our View: Anastasiades is taking the cowardly path to partition

The only party leader concerned about the stalemate in the Cyprus problem and the poor prospects for the resumption of the peace process seems to be the Akel chief Andros Kyprianou. Kyprianou, alone, is publicly warning about the dangers of an extended stalemate, which would also affect energy plans, as Turkey would step up provocations with the problem unsolved.

Speaking at a news conference, after a visit to Athens where he met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Greek party leaders, the Akel chief said that if the stalemate dragged on for a long period, “I fear conditions would greatly deteriorate and make the efforts for a settlement, based on the agreed framework, much more difficult.” The risk of “slipping into dangerous developments that would bring us closer to the partition option is visible,” he said.

It is not only the communist party and its leader that can see this danger. Everyone else can see it, including the government, but they are not very keen on averting it. If anything, they seem to be content things are leading closer to the partition option by stealth, as they would not have to take responsibility for it when it arrives. After an extended stalemate, with Turkey carrying on preventing drilling plans in Cypriot EEZ, partition would be presented by the government as the only way for the government to proceed with its energy planning.

President Anastasiades’ actions indicate that a velvet divorce was what he always had in mind. Mustafa Akinci has said messages about a two-state solution had reached him from Anastasiades’ circle, being too diplomatic to mention in public, what he says privately – that Anastasiades mentioned this option to him. It was no coincidence that before the presidential elections, Philelefteros reported that the Turkish side had not ruled out the possibility of a two-state solution after it was brought up by the Greek Cypriot side. Only Anastasiades could have brought it up.

Publicly, Anastasiades and his associates continue to pay lip service to reunification, claiming the president was ready to return to negotiations, the new foreign minister Nicos Christodoulides repeating, ad nauseam, that it was our side, which was eager for reunification because it suffered the most from the continuing division. This theoretical desire for reunification has been the mantra of even the most hardened opponents of a settlement, who also pretend that words speak louder than actions.

The president’s actions negate this rhetoric. He went to Crans-Montana dragging his feet, made a big contribution to the collapse of the process, his only concern, since then, is to shift all the blame for the stalemate to the Turkish side. He was keen on resuming talks, he would say, but also set conditions for the resumption he knew the Turkish Cypriot side would never accept. This theatre continues today, with the demand for more endless talks on the pretext that there must be “good preparation” before a new conference on Cyprus, which Anastasiades would attend only if all permanent members of the UN Security Council were also present.

At present we are witnessing the familiar charade of the UN Special Representative Elizabeth Spehar having meetings with the two leaders in order to arrange a dinner. If Anastasiades was so keen, why has he not called Akinci on the phone to arrange a meeting to decide how to proceed? Of course, now he has a more convincing excuse to stay away from the talks. Turkey’s actions in the Cypriot EEZ have provided him with a convincing reason for not engaging in any contact with the other side.

It is clear that Anastasiades has decided to take the cowardly road to partition – by stealth, creating the conditions that would make it the only settlement option. In this way, he would take no responsibility, presenting it as an imperative and blaming it on Turkish intransigence. It is a dishonest and cowardly tactic, designed to present people with a fait accompli, without any debate or explanations of why this would be the best solution.

As we have argued many times in the past, partition should have entered public debate. There was an election campaign, only a few weeks ago, yet Anastasiades, never said a word about it, persisting with the empty reunification rhetoric. He did not have the honesty to speak openly about it and explain to people why he believed partition was the best solution for the Greek Cypriots. The elections were the ideal platform to make the case for partition, as there could have been an open debate about its pros and cons, while the vote would have provided a good indication of whether there was public support for it.

It would appear that Anastasiades is not even prepared to have the debate, having chosen the coward’s option – partition by stealth.

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